The opening of the first ever Mawi store recently reminded us as a company of the importance of homes- both in terms of East London as the ‘home’ of Mawi, and in terms of having your own space where you can be totally relaxed, totally yourself.
With this in mind, I was delighted to receive a copy of a new book of photographs from Dileep Prakash entitled ‘What Was Home’, from Photoink- the Delhi gallery who showed this series and produced the book- about 70 pages of black and white bliss.
The work grew out of Prakash’s desire to revisit Mayo College, the boarding school in Ajmer where he spent his bittersweet formative years. (Ajmer is also a place which has a special connection with Mawi and the new store, but that’s another story…)
He explains the development of the project: “Initially I photographed the boarding school with a documentary leaning, but it soon became a more contemplative approach. My attempt was to explore memory, not descriptively but emotionally. I was drawing from memories, my imagination… fear, loneliness, surprise… I also decided to photograph other boarding schools of similar vintage and founded with a similar vision. Over four years, in the course of photographing nineteen old boarding schools across India, I felt many commonalities that resonated with my years at Mayo.”
Indeed, the photographs express the much broader emotional landscape of loneliness, constriction, rebellion and belonging, that schools, and institutions more generally, imbed and evoke. To read the images is to unearth half-remembered, half-forgotten memories…